A running store in West Hartford is looking to educate runners on personal safety to help prevent sexual assaults.
Fleet Feet Sports is hosting a self-defense workshop for runners on Wednesday.
The business is hosting two-time Olympic distance runner Todd Williams, who just happens to be a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Back.
Williams created “RunSafer,” powered by ASICS. Fleet Feet said the goal is to equip runners with practical safety techniques, tips and advice.
"Because an assault occurs every two minutes, I created the RunSafer one hour sessions to teach safety techniques that will help you protect yourself in a dangerous situation,” Williams said. “We're not here to turn you into a pro fighter, but to give you the self-defense tools that might save your life.”
Michelle Kurnik works at Fleet Feet and see lots of runners every day.
"People just wanting to get fit, wanting to move their bodies, wanting to be part of a larger community, too,” Kurnik said.
However, running is also an isolating sport.
In June, police said a jogger on a trail in Avon was sexually assaulted by a Massachusetts man. Her alleged attacker was eventually arrested, but it was a wake-up call for others who run alone.
"When you're alone like that, in a stretch when there's nobody else around, you gotta know how to protect yourself,” Kurnik said.
Fleet Feet said it was proud to partner with ASICS for the workshop.
"As stewards of our local running and walking community, it is important for us to take the initiative to educate runners on how to protect themselves in a dangerous situation, especially in light of the recent assault on a runner in broad daylight on a public running path,” said Stephanie Blozy, owner of Fleet Feet Sports.
Runner Molly Donahue said she recently took one with her mom.
"I always go without music and then I always either go with my dad or my mom,” Donahue said. “I just let them know, this is the route I'm going."
In addition to the workshop, Fleet Feet said a Hartford-based technology startup called Wearsafe is developing wearable personal safety products. One is called the Wearsafe Tag, a small Bluetooth device that can pair with smartphones and instantly connect a runner with their network of family and friends.
"It's awful to have to operate that way but it is really important to always be on the defensive,” Kurnik said.
Check out Wearsafe’s website here.
The self-defense workshop is scheduled from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Fleet Feet’s store in West Hartford.
For more information about Fleet Feet, click here.
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